13 February 2009

Spotlight on...Laurie Trok

In addition to being a talented emerging artist, Laurie Trok is also my studio mate and sometimes collaborator, an awesome jewelery maker, my fashion icon, and an all-around great gal. Here, we talk about her artistic process and influences.

Tell me about all of the different interests you have.
I am very interested in the way things are perceived and understood. I am fascinated with language, especially the visual language we find ourselves in constant dialogue with. I like to play with shapes and arrange parts of things to invent new meaning, or to find it within something.

Your artwork is a mix of collage, construction, graffiti and doodles. Can you talk about all the different artists and processes that influence what you do? What inspires your work?
Wow. I love looking at art. I can spend a whole day on the Internet or reading art magazines about new work being made. I think it's important to have a rich sense of where we come from as artists in contemporary society. This means my influences range from Matisse (specifically his cutouts) to Swoon.
Other influences at the moment are Andy Goldsworthy, Diana Cooper, Kara Walker, Ray Johnson, Robert Rauschenberg and Mark Bradford. I am inspired by the artwork I see on the street on a daily basis. I love looking at zines, comics, posters...(check out PaperRad) I am also greatly influenced by my artist friends. I love to see their processes and work, and watch as we steal from one another shamelessly. Especially you, Lauren, and my friend Todd Scalise.

What is your creative process?
I like to think my process is something that is ever-changing and growing. In my two-dimensional work, I like to begin with blind contour drawings (drawings done without looking down at the page) and use the marker bleeds on the opposite side of the page to begin the transformation of the work -- breaking it down into shapes. These shapes are constantly being cut into and out of my collages, and appear in my three dimensional work as well. I am pretty much lost without a pair of scissors or an exact-o knife.

How does music influence your work?
Oh, boy. I studied classical music for most of my youth into college, when I turned toward the visual arts. I think it's because of my music training that I work so abstractly. I think in music and in shapes. I like to listen to music while I work. I am not interested in representing things literally. I am interested in creating reality. Music is the highest form of this idea.

You use a lot of interesting materials-- found, thrown away, recycled. Can you talk about how these materials shape your work and why you are drawn to them?
There are several reasons why I work in recycled and found materials. One is strictly financial. I want to work, now. I can't afford art supplies, and I don't think I need them. Not today. With the excess around us, I feel responsible for this waste. I feel it is necessary to use the images that fall all around us, and build something new out of them. To order the chaos, so to speak.

Your artwork seems to be moving off the wall and becoming more sculptural--do you think you will be creating sculpture in the future?
YES. I love working three dimensionally. One of the reasons I want to go back to school is to learn how to use more materials so these three dimensional sketches can be realized. I enjoy playing with materials that don't go together, finding new meaning. This has naturally brought me to a more 3 dimensional sensibility. I am really excited to explore the possibilities.

What is your dream project?
Right now I am applying to a residency program in the Grand Canyon. I dream and hope that I'll get it, so I can work with the raw materials that the environment provides. It will be a literal breath of fresh air from my manic paper-cutting.
I guess on a larger scale my dream project would be some kind of installation of cut paper, filling a space that can be inhabited. People that spend time there could interact with the work, add to it, etc. As time goes on and material filters in and out of the space, the work evolves. That would be cool. I just thought of that.

You have a day job, how do you balance your job with your creativity?
I wouldn't take my advice on this one. I am struggling with that right now. Ideally my answer would be that I am able to take things from daily life straight to my studio and that since it pays the bills and helps me achieve balance, I see it as a stepping stone toward a future of art-making as a full-time career. It takes nothing away from being an artist, it only adds dimension. While I believe that, I struggle to practice it. I harbor a lot of bitterness about the ways I feel forced to spend my time. Like I said, its something I'm working on....

How do you get through artist's block?
I mainly feel blocked by time and material/financial constraints. This has taught me to work resourcefully and spontaneously. I feel as if there is no time to waste, and have become accustomed to working with whatever material I can get my hands on. When I feel blocked, I go back to the drawing board. I look at a lot of art during my down times. I go to museums, I walk outside. I copy art that I like. I continue to work, even if I feel I am producing very little. It's strange what comes out of these times. It makes it all worth it.

What are you working on now?
I have a few projects in the works. I am going through a sort-of boring but necessary phase right now of cataloguing all my of work up to the present. I've been really lazy about it, but I am learning more and more that organization in this area leads to opportunity.
I have been drawing a lot, too, in anticipation for the weather to break so I can realize some of these drawings on a large scale in my studio. Lauren and I are planning to exhibit this spring together with a two-wall, multi layered installation. All the drawings in the cold and scraps of paper cut will end up a part of this work.

(Above: Vinyl and collage on window panel)

Laurie Trok is a working artist in the Penn Avenue Corridor in Pittsburgh. She recently exhibited her collages and vinyl collage windows at Garfield Artworks.
Laurie studied Music Performance and Studio Art at Duquesne University and is currently working toward a residency program in the Grand Canyon. She plans to return to school in the fall to continue her studies.
To see more of Laurie's work and for contact information, please visit her Pittsburgh Artist Registry page.

Thanks Laurie!